ITALIAN MEMES – POSTCARDS FROM ITALY / LE FESTE – HOLIDAYS AND CELEBRATIONS
The Italian holiday Ferragosto couldn’t be celebrated anywhere but Italy. In fact, it’s the only country I know that marks Aug. 15 as still having significance. The festivities date back to 18 BC and the reign of Roman Emperor Augustus for whom the whole month is named. He declared August to be for revelry. The high point in those days was Aug. 13 when women made offerings to the goddess Diana in hopes of having safe labor and delivery.
Italian Holiday Ferragosto – Sun, Sex, and Rock n’ Roll
In general, the celebrations were all about excesses – gorging, orgies, and imbibing. I’ve written about this before for ItaliansRus. Christianity comes around and makes Aug. 15 about the assumption of the Virgin Mary in an attempt to change the rituals. But we’re talking about Italians here. Do you really think you could take away their wine and sex and delicious food and still call it a holiday? C’mon now.
Obviously, the Church needs a reality check. Indeed, my friends and family will be indulging in food and wine and whatever else today. Some of them will say a little prayer or even head to church, too. Right at this moment, most of them are sleeping off the celebrations that began last night as they ushered in Aug. 15.
To be fair, here on the island of Ischia, most of my people were not getting to enjoy the holiday. They were making the holiday for the guests at hotels, bars, and restaurants throughout the island. And they’ll continue to do that today. Making sure others have a good time, after all, is their livelihood.
What will they be doing exactly? Well, carving watermelons into gorgeous flowers is one task. Another is setting tables for multi-course meals full of Italian hallmarks, such as fresh mozzarella, la parmigiana, shellfish fresh from the sea, and pounds of pasta. Chefs will be cooking all that. Someone will be on hand to make sure the wine is ever flowing, never an empty glass. Someone else will cue the music at the discoteca.
Glistening cabana boys will help beachgoers open their umbrellas and snag a drinks on the beach. Of course, there will be natives flirting with the tourists in the hopes of a little something something on Ferragosto. Wink. Wink. I guess you can say Ischia, with its slogan “where you eat, drink, and ‘whistle,'” tries to meet all your needs. Buon Ferragosto to all!
Di Meglio is the author of Fun with the Family New Jersey (Globe Pequot Press, 2012). She also has written the Our Paesani column for ItaliansRus.com since 2003. You can follow the Italian Mamma on Facebook or Twitter @ItalianMamma10.